Child Labor, Corruption, and (Ethical) Consumption – How Can You Make a Difference?
Since repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, and so the architect of accomplishment like Zig Ziglar once wisely quoted, let me repeat some of the cruel facts about the state of ethics and moral on planet Earth:
-The total global number of child labor has decreased in the past decade, but still, an estimation of 168 million children worldwide are forced to work, more than half of whom are involved in hazardous work.
– The geographical regions where child labor is at its highest:
- APAC (Asia and the Pacific) with almost 78 million
- Sub-Saharan Africa with 59 million
- Latin America and the Caribbean with 13 million
- Middle East and North Africa with around 9 million
The major part of these children work within agriculture (almost 100 million), followed by services (54 million) and industry (12 million). (ILO-IPEC. Making progress against child labor. Global estimates and trends 2000-2012. 2013. Quoted 30.6.2014).
Read the detailed definitions of child labor in ILO Conventions:
Children participating in work not affecting their health, personal development, or interfering with their education is different, but being trapped in other kinds of activities, including the cruelest forms such as slavery in armed conflicts, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, and organized begging, are ruthless violations of children´s freedom and human rights. (UN. Child Labor. Quoted 30.6.2014).
Corruption, literally “utterly broken”, was already used by Aristotle and Cicero, adding the terms bribe and abandonment of good habits. In political terminology, corruption is the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest. Corruption is also an action to secretly provide goods or services to someone in order to influence certain actions benefiting the corrupt, a third-party, or both. The moral dimension of corruption can either refer to a mentality problem, or to external circumstances such as poverty, inadequate remuneration, inappropriate work conditions, weak or very complex procedures demoralizing people thus letting them look for alternative solutions. (Wikipedia. Quoted 30.6.2014).
Worldwide, there are a number of organizations and national institutions dealing with, and providing information about, corruption, including OECD with its slogan “Better Policies for Better Lives” (OECD. Bribery in International Business. Quoted 30.6.2014), and UNCAC (The United Nations Convention against Corruption), a multilateral convention negotiated by members of the UN. (UNODC. United Nations Convention against Corruption. Quoted 30.6.2014).
Read the complete report of the UN Convention against Corruption:
Transparency International, a global movement working to end corruption worldwide, publishes a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) each year, ranking countries and territories based on their level of corruption in the public sector. To see the current results, and to test your knowledge, please visit Transparency International: http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/. (Transparency International. Quoted 30.6.2014).
These are only two major global problems, among many others.
The question is, how can YOU, and your organization, make a difference?
As a private household consumer, it is not always easy to know all the work included in a certain product, unless you have produced it yourself of course. This is why it is so important that organizations operate with a high level of transparency and inform their customers about their level of standards in all of the organization´s business practices. Most progressive organizations, these days, are concerned with how they produce, or at least organizations and corporations should be socially responsible, and so make it easier for consumers to know what they are buying.
As a consumer it is possible to invest some time in finding out more about the product, its origins, and the kind of work included in the process. If you, as a consumer, are unsure about whether a company is bringing “ethically clean” products to the market, you can always choose to ask the company, and demand supplementary information about a specific product. If it is not available, or given to you, another possibility is to change your consumer behavior and choose products that you know are ethically produced.
Ethical consumption, first popularized by the UK magazine the Ethical Consumer, favors ethical products, empowering consumers to make ethically informed consumption choices and providing reliable information on corporate behavior. These criteria-based ethical and environmental ratings have become commonplace both in providing consumer information and in B2B, CSR and sustainability ratings. (Wikipedia. Quoted 30.6.2014).
It may all sound somewhat complex to start with, but don´t we all want to spend our money wisely and ethically?
The next time you go shopping, start by asking yourself, why a certain product is so cheap? The price is not always an indicator of unethical production, but it could be.